Wreath Rivalry
It was wreath only a mother could love.

It started with the show "100 holiday ideas for a total of $100." Beautifully dressed interior designers frolicked through their demonstrations of ideas that often required a master's degree in glue guns. But then a man in a black turtleneck with a meticulously developed air of bored superiority showed how to make a wreath with drycleaner bags. By tying shredded strips of the plastic bags around a disassembled coat hanger, you could create a shiny, ecologically friendly wreath.

Since motherhood cut down on my dry cleaning (by staining every outfit I had that required dry cleaning) I substituted grocery bags and started cutting and tying strips. A few hours later, I was astonished. Hey, I thought, this looks pretty good.

This is what cable does to you. You actually come to believe that plastic bags tied around a coat hanger "looks pretty good."

I even decided to give it to my mother. When I delivered it early in December, it was fourth grade all over again. She loved it, and promptly displayed it on the mantle. I was a little embarrassed, but also ridiculously proud.

We returned to her house for the big holiday dinner weeks later. On her mantle was a huge wreath. It was gorgeous, the greenery absolutely perfect, the colors flowing in a holiday harmony that would have silenced any decent choir. Martha Stewart would have given her left tit for this wreath.

And there, on the little music stand next to the mantle, was my recycled bag wreath.

"Oh! Did you see the wreath Christy sent me?" my mother said.

Of course. My sister. From across the Midwest she had reached into the open-ended game of sibling rivalry black jack and tossed down a big, fat ace right here, in my mother's house.

I turned to look at my mother, to apologize for my sad little homemade wreath. But one look at her brought me up short. She had no idea of the vast gulf that lay between my wreath with the ripped grocery bags and the Epic Salute to the Spirits of Yuletide on the mantle. In her eyes, they were somehow THE SAME.

I was floored. First, I realized I'd have no chance to ditch my plastic ring of economy Christmas in the closet, sparing myself the inevitable comparisons that would race across the faces of every relative present. Then, it dawned on me.

My mother is incredible.

In her heart and in her eyes, they were from her daughters. They were our love shaped into circles and she cherished them both.

Already I find this beautiful blindness within myself. I see gifts given from the heart of my children are the same, despite all appearances to the contrary.

As a daughter, I'm still completely mortified by the memory of the wreath rivalry where I was so completely left in the dust. Yet I take considerable comfort in knowing that to my mother there was no contest—and there never has been.